People watching is kind of my thing and the city is prime people watching territory. People fly over the sidewalk here. There are seas of plumed hats and camel coats. There are shopping carts and milk bottles and newspapers. Tweeds and burlaps crease over bodies and hands mapped with varicose veins flit like hummingbirds. Some people like to snarl. I try to work on a “mean look” when I walk but I usually end up looking like a bewildered Gary Busey. It always strikes me how fast city life is, how everyone seems to be on a round the clock schedule. It’s enough to make a girl want a blunt haircut and an even blunter streetwise tone. Enough to make a girl wish she could toss out her inappropriate alpaca sweater coats (the three of which I own I am still not sure how I acquired…) to dress in a steel kilt and armored heels. I once heard that living in the city is more difficult than eating glass. On my way to the train station, stopping outside of a tremendous steepled church, I saw a woman who looked like she had eaten glass. Her face was smoke-soaked and tired. Her wet lipstick bled in threads; it looked like a bloody eye on her chin. I had a few minutes to kill. I walked into the church and planned to pray for the woman to stop looking so sad and world weary but there were so many people in the big church with its yawning cavity of space and light and glass. There was a businessman with a nose like a dollar sign. There was a lost child, parenthetically dimpled, heaving sobs and frantic for his mother. There was a twitching teenager in a wheelchair, eyes cast upward and all around, head rubbed raw. You know, people can throw the most nail-knuckled punches without even looking your direction. I stared at my purpled, pale, skinned feet and couldn’t think of big enough words to encompass all of the feelings I was feeling. It may be strange and simplistic to have come to the realization at that moment that these people who could not be more different on the outside share at least one speck of similarity on the inside: their faith. Maybe not even their specific faith but the fact that they have some kind of faith in something, whether it be Jesus or God or a stirring spoon or their children or the sun. Every house of worship and city is the same- you can walk in on a whole lot of suffering but I guess everyone is suffering together and that seems to make things better.
Going to church is the closest thing to a team sport I’ve done in a long, long time.